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October 23, 2023

What to expect in Washington (October 23)

House Republicans are back to square one in choosing a new Speaker after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was unable to win the 217 votes required last week. A candidate forum at 6:30 tonight kicks off the process, with the potential for a secret ballot Tuesday morning and no indications of when a new Speaker will be elected. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said he deliberately pushed proceedings into this week, rather than working the weekend, to allow time for consensus building. Others said the process may take days more.

"The reason why I made that decision is we need space and time for candidates to talk to other members," McHenry said Friday, as reported by ABC News. "It's fair to say that Leader Scalise wasn't given adequate time to campaign — he was given 24 hours to campaign. I don't think that was right for him. Our nominee Jordan was given a little more time. Not right for him."

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said on CNN State of the Union yesterday, "I think we need to find someone who hopefully can get to 217 before we're all poised, in very [dramatic] fashion, on the House floor, trying to determine how this will unfold. I really hope, in the next several days, as we come together as a Republican Caucus, that we're able to resolve that, so that we go unified to the House floor and deliver a speaker."

Members who have said they are running for speaker include:

  • Current Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), who has the support of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who competed against Rep. Jordan in a prior round
  • Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL)
  • Ways & Means member Kevin Hern (R-OK)
  • Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI)
  • Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), a former Rules Chairman who was defeated in 2018 after more than 20 years in Congress but returned in 2021 to represent another district
  • Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL)
  • Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA)

Former Speaker McCarthy said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday: "I believe Tom Emmer, our whip, he's been in the room with all of our successes, from our bills to secure the border, from parents' bill of rights, from cutting $2 trillion, getting work requirements. He knows how to do the job across the street at the same time, helping us win the majority. He sets himself head and shoulders above all those others who want to run. We need to get him elected this week and move on and bring this, not just party together, but focus on what this country needs most."

The long list of candidates makes quick consensus seem elusive. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said GOP "fractures, coupled with a very narrow 221-212 majority, are prone to generating groups of holdouts who may decline to back their nominee on the House floor … Rep. Mike Flood of Nebraska is circulating a unity pledge, which lawmakers can sign saying that they promise to back the party's speaker designee in a House floor vote." Some members argued for that approach. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) was quoted as saying of lawmakers' return to Washington, "We debate. You get it down to two candidates. Whoever has the majority, you get behind them and support them."

There hasn't been any legislation being sent over from the Senate during the time the House has been without a Speaker, though there soon could be, making the situation more dire. The White House sent over a national security request of more than $100 billion on October 20 and is expected to submit to Congress this week a separate domestic supplemental spending measure with funding for issues like disaster relief, childcare and broadband.

"I just know this is not a time to play games," Rep. McCarthy said Sunday. "This is embarrassing for the Republican Party. It's embarrassing for the nation. And we need to look at one another and solve the problem." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Fox News Sunday, "I hope they can get a speaker sometime soon. Because it does send, I think, a poor message to our allies and our enemies around the world. And we also have work to do, we have appropriation bills to pass. We have a supplemental to deal with. So, I'm pulling for them to finally wrap this up sometime soon."

Energy — An October 22 WSJ story on forthcoming guidance on the IRC Section 45V hydrogen tax credit said, "The battle is over subsidies to produce clean hydrogen, a potential alternative to oil and natural gas in industries such as steelmaking and trucking where renewable energy and batteries alone aren't adequate. The administration is weighing how strictly to define what energy sources can be used to make clean hydrogen and still be eligible for some of the most valuable tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act." Further, "The heart of the current conflict is in whether companies planning to use fossil-fuel power from electricity grids to make hydrogen would have to buy equivalent renewable energy on an hourly basis or a looser annual standard."

Global tax - A report to be unveiled today by the EU Tax Observatory will suggest that the OECD-led effort to impose a minimum global corporate tax of 15% has been weakened by exceptions and will only raise 5% of global corporate tax revenue, rather than the nearly 10% once projected, the AP reported.

Congress — The House Ways & Means Committee has announced the following hearings:

  • Work & Welfare Subcommittee hearing on "Measuring Poverty: How the Biden Administration Plans to Redraw the Poverty Line and Rob Resources from Rural America" on Tuesday, October 24 (at¬ 2 p.m.)
  • full Committee hearing on education tax policy, likely to have a focus, at least in part, on college/university issues, on Wednesday, October 25 (at 10 a.m.)
  • Social Security Subcommittee hearing on improving the disability adjudication process on Thursday, October 26 (at 9 a.m.)

The Senate will convene for a pro forma session only today. A vote has been set for 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24, on the nomination of Michael Whitaker to be Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing, "Exploring Paid Leave: Policy, Practice, and Impact on the Workforce," on Wednesday, October 25 (at 10 a.m.).

On October 26, the OECD will hold a technical webinar on the Multilateral Convention to Implement Amount A of Pillar One.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
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